Friday, May 25, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman
BUSH HAD LET it be known that if Congress failed to appropriate funds for his war in Iraq he’d leave troops out there in the field without provisions to prove his point. Because the threat had been made by a man who’s registered time and time again above 9.0 on the insanity scale, members backed off.
RICHARD NIXON used to say that if the enemy thought you were a little crazy, you could work that to your advantage. He was talking about foreign affairs, but Bush has taken the doctrine several steps further into the realm of domestic madness. You don’t even have to look into his history to understand he meant what he said. You only had to look into his blank, taxidermy eyes, eyes incapable of seeing or understanding or caring.
ONE OF THE many resulting ironies is that Congress, fearing Bush might drive war policy off a cliff, backed off and let him keep sending it down a steep switchback road without any brakes. This coming week they’ll be burying one of his victims, Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., of Torrance, Calif., the 20-year-old kid whose body was recently found floating in the Euphrates. After being captured with two members of his squad he was shot in the head. The body showed signs of abuse, possibly torture, but we can hope not. Anzack lived down the road from me just a few miles, went to a nearby high school.
IN A WAR that makes no sense, Anzack and his undermanned unit were out on a mission that made even less sense – sitting in one spot in hostile territory, giving the enemy a chance to zero in on them. It was what troops call a cluster-fuck -- an apt illustration of what goes wrong when the primary mission – in this case our participation in Iraq’s civil war – is pointless, and the tools and the manpower are insanely short of what’s required. Not enough guys in a couple tomato-skinned vehicles. Somebody gave a stupid order and it got passed along and eight men are casualties.
ANZACK WAS AN infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division, a proud outfit that took on the Germans in the mountains of Northern Italy, sometimes hand-to-hand. Lieutenant Bob Dole was crippled in the fighting. My cousin Tech 4 Marvin Gillman, a paratrooper in the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, was wounded in sustained fighting around Anzio. A unit citation from Lt. Gen. Mark Clark says the severely outnumbered 509th fought off waves of attackers "with rifle butts and even fists."
AFTER THREE WEEKS in the hospital Marvin was returned to his unit, which was later dropped into southern France on a night mission. There was heavy flack. My cousin and the sixteen other men in his plane were mistakenly dropped into the Mediterranean and never seen again.
BUT OVERALL, THE drop was successful. The 509th killed or captured all the Germans in their sector, and there were plenty. Marvin was an only child, and his death broke my aunt and uncle, ruining their lives. He was 19.
AT LEAST Belle and Sol Gillman knew their son fought in a war that had to be fought. The country had no choice, and the overall mission was rational. But Mr. and Mrs. Anzack must at least suspect that this war makes no sense at all, that their son died because we have a president who’s willing to let 20-year-old kids get shot in the head in a futile attempt to prove he knows what he’s doing. Those are real people dying out there, and some of them belong to us.


paddy said...

20-year-old kid whose body was recently found floating in the Euphrates. Yes I heard something about that on the BBC last week. God!
I've said and you know it the rich start wars and send the mostly poor to fight them. It's a bloody mess the whole world politic. The one good thing about Bush getting his war money was (the arm twister) congress managed to increase the minimum wage just over 2 dollars I think it was. At least something happened that needed to happen even if very small, but there you go.
Chin up. Cheers! Y;-) Paddy

Ivan G. Goldman said...

Thanks, the $2 is spread out over some ridiculously long period, but we should be aware of progress, however small. Bear in mind our Congress is now taking a break our troops in the field won't share.